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Harjit Sohotey-Khan works with social enterprises, artisan NGO’s and brands to sell ethically handcrafted fashion and homeware for style conscious women. Her mission is Style Made to Empower – empowering the consumer with high quality, artisanal fashion and artisans with a sustainable income.
Listen in to hear Harjit share:
- What Jewelled Buddha is and what she sells (1:00)
- How and why she quit her 9-to-5 job to travel through Asia (1:26)
- Where she found the inspiration for her business (4:40)
- How things change when you work for yourself (7:00)
- The practical steps she took to set up her business (8:57)
- How and why she started off selling in marketplaces (10:00)
- The logistics around products and stock (11:48)
- Selecting products and how she sources ethical, sustainable, wearable fashion (12:41)
- The importance of having a criteria for products included in her range (18:16)
- Getting to know the communities she works with (20:00)
- The importance of appreciating our clothes and shopping sustainably (21:30)
- How the covid-19 pandemic has affected her supply chain and the communities she works with (23:00)
- Appearing in the Telegraph and how she’s getting so much press coverage – plus what you can do to get yourself in the press (25:54)
- Her best PR tips (30:10)
- The importance of joining Facebook groups and networking groups (31:30)
- Her experience of working through my product creation course (34:10)
- Why you just need to get started and why your journey will look different to everyone else’s (36:15)
- What wearing the same clothes for a year taught her (40:50)
- Her number one piece of advice for other product creators (42:57)
Giving up the 9-to-5 to sell Artisan products - with Harjit Sohotey Khan
Welcome to the, bring your product ideas to life podcast, practical advice, and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. Here's your host Vicki Weinberg
Vicki Weinberg (00:00:22):
Today I'm talking to Harjit Sohotey-Khan from Jewelled Buddha. Harjit works with social enterprise as artists and NGOs and brands to sell ethically hand-crafted fashion and home wear for style conscious women. Her mission is style may to empower empowering the consumer with high quality artisinal fashion and artist ads
for sustainable income. This is a fantastic conversation, and I really hope you find it both interesting and useful. Okay. Right. So, hi, thank you so much for being here.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:00:54):
It was great to be here. Thank you.
Vicki Weinberg (00:00:56):
So can you tell us about your business and what you sell?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:00:60):
Yeah, sure. So I own a company called Jewelled Buddha and basically I work with social enterprises, NGOs artisans and some brands as well to sell ethical fashion and homework style conscious women.
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:17):
Perfect. Thank you. And so how did you get started with all that bit? Well, first of all, when did you get started and, and what was the story around it?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:01:25):
Oh gosh, it must've been about just over six years ago, seven actually. And I was working in the city. I had a city job and I was commuting in all the time and, you know, just living that nine to five life that everybody does in London. And it just got to a point, actually, what I thought to myself is this all life is, you know, is this all it's about? Because it just, I think when you're working in this, especially if you're working in a big city like London, then there's a lot of pressure and a lot of time taken out of your day to commute, to work. And I think for me, as I got older, it actually felt as if time was running out for me.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:02:08):
And I wanted to really make the most of my life. I'd always wanted to travel as well. And even though I'd been on some amazing holidays for a fortnight, also, it wasn't enough for me. I wanted to discover more, to have more of a purpose in life and, you know, really live rather than just exist because I think just having that type of work where it's just feels robotic and mundane and you know, you go to work, you've got your to do
lists and you've got your rehearse conversations you have in meetings and you sit there and you think I actually really don't like this job. And that don't think it was the fact that I should have left and got another
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:02:50):
And I would have been really happy. It was more than that. I felt sort of inside. I wanted more. So a couple of other things happened, well, my mom fell ill. She wasn't very well. And I was caring for it, same time. And I think everything just got to me and I thought to myself, you know, life is short. So I was 42 at the time. Or should I say 41 and a half? I'd say because I spent that quite a few months planning what I was going to do before I left. So I did that and my husband and I, we quit our jobs and we went traveling for a whole year across South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:03:33):
And it was just, it, it was just amazing. It was a huge transformation and it affected us in such a positive way. I mean, even my husband, even now, you know, even though he's sort of got back into working and everything, he still feels how I feel. So we've got that wonder lost, which never leaves us. And we're always itching to go away, you know? So it's a lot of people who travel, they feel that way because it never leaves them. You know?
Vicki Weinberg (00:04:04):
So what, so you went away in travel for the year. So was it during your year away or when you came back that you decided to set up Jewelled Buddha?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:04:12):
Yeah. So the first destination we went to was Nepal and it was while we were checking in the Himalayas, we came and we were descending. We came across this lovely village while we saw lots of women hand looming yak shackles, and I've always been into handmade stuff. Anyway, being Asian was sort of brought up to have our clothes handmade and I just love seeing them, you know, weaving beautiful, intricate shawls and clothing. And it was just so lovely. And I didn't know at that time, but that sort of subconsciously planted a seed in my mind.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:04:53):
And it was very strange because as we were sort of traveling, we came across so many artists and communities and I found that I sort of went out of my way to see the more really. So while we were traveling, having a great time, you know, ticking off our bucket list, it just came across these communities. And I think sort of six months into it, I started thinking, Oh no, what am I going to do when I get back home? You know, am I going to go back to work again? And this thing inside me just kept saying, you know, Oh, maybe you could start a business. So, you know, the whole year went by and we came across these communities.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:05:33):
I made a few contacts which started in India. That's where my first collection was launched. So when I came
back, I had several months of trying to readjust to life, which was really difficult. And it was, it was the biggest sort of let down, you know, you come back after an amazing year and everything's the same people are the same, they're still in the same jobs, but you've changed. And that change can make you feel really alienated and really like, sort of left out as if you went to another planet. And then you came back again and, you know, I think I've bored people silly when I came back about my travels, you know, cause I had, I was just full of enthusiasm about life and I was transformed sort of mentally.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:06:23):
And it was just, I think, you know, my friends, a lot of the time, they just had these glazed eyes basically after a while. And I thought, actually, I think I'm overdoing this now. You know? So I just started reconnecting with the contacts that I've made and that was it. I set up a company and Jewelled Buddha was born.
Vicki Weinberg (00:06:45):
That's an amazing story. Thank you. And when you was talking about feeling like, you know, a bit of an outsider, I think sometimes you can feel like that just even running your own business as well. When you first go from being an employee to being self-employed know if you have that feeling. Cause I, when you said that that's immediately what I fought off before, by building up a network of other people, he ran their own businesses. I felt like that with my friends and family, like a little bit apart because I was sort of out on my own as well. So yeah.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:07:15):
Yeah. It's so true because especially, you know, if you're starting off, you set up an online business, so you're working from home straight away and all that communication that you have with your friends and all that engagement interaction that you have is just gone, you know, so you've left, you know, your job anyway. So a lot of the time, you know, those people you'll never see again and you're still with the same sort of friends that you've always had, but yes, you know, running a business from home, it's incredibly lonely actually. And if you don't have anyone else to sound off to then, you know, it's, it's a very difficult thing. And you know, when I started, I didn't have a clue about anything. I'd never run a business.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:07:56):
I'd never been interested in, you know, sort of business studies before. You know, there was a time when I was sort of growing up in college and uni and stuff. Everyone was doing business studies, you know, but it never really interested me until I started. And it was huge learning curve, you know, to literally wear all those hats, you know, and I'm still doing it now. And I still find it incredibly challenging and although lockdown has happened, everybody else has had to go through that in a way it's almost the same thing where they're like, right, no office work anymore. You can't go in, you've got to work from home. And then everybody, you know, if they've got kids as well and big families, they have to interact with each other, you know?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:08:40):
So yeah, I totally agree with what you're saying. You know, it is a very sort of challenging sort of thing to do when you're on your own.
Vicki Weinberg (00:08:49):
So what was some of the steps you took? So it was when you got home, you decided that you were going to set up Jewelled Buddha and were going to start selling products and these artists and communities, what were some of, sort of the practical things you had to do to make that happen?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:09:04):
So I contacted the social enterprise in India that I found out about while I was traveling. I mean, that was relatively easy. They were because they'd met you before then, you know, it was just sort of reconnecting with them and, you know, they just said, you know, here's some of the collections that we have and I just had, you know, sent over some of the collections I've got now, obviously they came at a later stage, but it just sort of started I think with thinking, right, I've got to set up a website now I initially started without one and I used to go selling in marketplaces, excuse me.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:09:49):
And so, you know, that was, face-to-face selling, you know, it's, it's more profitable really isn't it to do that because excuse me, because people can, you know, sort of see your product, but yeah, I mean, I, I thought sort of going quite quickly, but I think it was challenging to actually set up your own website as well. So, you know, finding platforms to put your products on and sort of, you know, steps like that are quite hard to do at the beginning, especially when, you know, you don't have any experience of what a website should look at. So I spent a lot of time researching everything. So researching on selling, marketing, everything to do with business, you know, just, you know, accounting, you name it.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:10:37):
It was literally just going through each thing and thinking, right. You know, I make a sale. What do I need to do after that? And how am I going to promote it? Who am I going to tell, how am I going to get the word out there? So it was all these simple things that, you know, you need to know to start off with.
Vicki Weinberg (00:10:54):
And I guess there's also sort of the logistical side as well. So I'm assuming that at the beginning, at least, and possibly still now you sort of keeping all the stops, sending it out when you made the sale. Was, is that what you did first of all? And is that still what you're doing now? Or things work differently now?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:11:11):
Yeah. It's still what I'm doing at the moment. I still try and keep my costs down. You know, I'd love to get to a stage where, you know, you can have, I wouldn't say a warehouse, that'd be a huge business if I had that, but you know, a place where you can, you know, store your stock and, you know, get it sent out. But yeah, I
still, you know, work in that way now, so yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:11:35):
Yeah. That's yeah, that's really good. And, and talking about stock as well. So how does it work? Do you sort of order directly from India and the products get sent to you and then you keep them, then you send them out. Is that, is that how it tends to work?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:11:49):
Yeah. Some of the brands I have is I've got one part of my, which is the necklaces and the salary scars. They're all part of an up cycle, sorry, range, which I have. So I've been to India and visited the artisans, which was a really amazing thing to do. So it's good to actually talk to these people who, who make your products and see what the impact is, you know, that you're making when you sell a product. So that was a really great thing to do.
Vicki Weinberg (00:12:22):
So you buy the products from them and then sort of sell them on. Yeah. And so how do you select the products that, that you're going to sell? Because you mentioned before that you've expanded your range a bit from when you started. So yeah. How do you know who you want to work with and how do you find, you know, these amazing products?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:12:41):
Yeah, it's again, it's a lot of research being an ethical company. Well, the first thing I can say is I look at all the sort of fashion trends in the industry sort of trends that are in at the moment being an ethical business and not a trend based business. It's still important for me to know that. And also what I tend to do is I look at what I like, you know, I look at my whole range and I think, you know, how can I diversify the range without impacting on the existing range that I have? So what I'll do is I'll look for social enterprises or NGOs and I'll see what impact they're having, how they're helping our seasons.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:13:30):
So a lot of my brand is all about women empowerment. So I tries to choose social enterprises that create products that empower women and also help communities thrive. Craft communities thrive because all my products or handling and handmade. So especially in India as well, the handloom industry is in sort of crisis at the moment. They always sort of in a way has been because, you know, everything sort of industrialized over there now. So, you know, that's putting pressure on handling weavers. They're not getting the jobs that they want.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:14:11):
And also their children are sort of asked to financial need being forced to go and work in factories and things. So they're not taking up the class that have been passed down through generations. So I'm looking for
NGOs and social enterprises that are trying to keep those communities, you know, thriving and keep those age old crafts going. So what I look for is looking at the collections that they have. I sort of look for timeless pieces, classic pieces that I know have longevity. I'm a very versatile, they're multifunctional and they're wearable.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:14:52):
So, you know, you can buy something from India and you might love it. But sometimes I don't know whether you've found this, if you've gone on holiday somewhere, so some exhausted location and you've bought something and you can totally see yourself in it while you're over there. And then you come back and you think, Oh my God, I can't wear that. You know? So I've learned that over the, you know, the years that I've been in business now, I really look at my product range with more of a keen eye on, is it wearable here? You know, will somebody wear it? You know, I tried to go for wardrobe, staples that, you know, again have longevity that are very versatile with existing wardrobes that people would wear over here, you know, outfits that people wear over here.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:15:37):
And I look for products that have a story. So all the collections that I have either have things like canvas searching, which is like an age old arts, the hand died, you know, so we've got a range which is the STG may range. And that's based on Japanese Tye dye, which was also taken over to India. So, you know, I look at those and I think, you know, they've got a beautiful story to them and they're so, you know, well-made, they're high quality as well, because I think, you know, a lot of people, they have this misconception, maybe it was true years ago, but they have this misconception that in Asia, you don't get quality, but these days you do, because they've really upped their game over there.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:16:23):
They've, you know, expanded globally as a country. And they've really sort of increased their quality of stitching and sort of craft as well for the Western market. So essentially on true when they say, you know, if you buy something from India that is, you know, bad quality, of course you'd get that market, but you know, there's so many beautiful things out there.
Vicki Weinberg (00:16:47):
Yeah. And that's, yeah, I've had a good look at your range and it is beautiful. I particularly like the upcycling products. So the scars and the necklaces, I just beautiful. I like to say you could see that you could totally just wear them with your everyday outfit.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:17:02):
Yeah, that's right. You know, a lot of the pieces I have, I see them as outfit elevators, so you could work, you know, really simple sort of weekend casual jeans, t-shirt sort of combination, but just throw a really beautiful scarf with it. And it really elevates that outfit into something else. So, you know, it's just investing sort of in
that one piece, you know, which really sort of, you know, you're gonna treasure for so many years to come and because that ups cycles, you know, or they're made from everything's natural. So a lot of my stuff is silk. So it's all biodegradable as well. There's no like polyester or anything in there, you know?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:17:44):
So yeah, that's, that's what I've tried to do is make these really versatile wardrobe stables
Vicki Weinberg (00:17:51):
And it's, yeah. It's really obvious that you've got a really keen eye and you know exactly what you're looking for as well, which I think is great, especially when you're sourcing products. Yeah. I guess it's good to know exactly what it is you're looking for. So that if something doesn't meet your criteria, you sort of know, I guess you could spend a long time on selecting products.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:18:10):
Cause yeah, I mean, there's a lot of research involved in it, which can go from three to six months. I mean, a couple of years I saw a homeware range. I thought let's try home ware. So I went all the way to Roger Stan and a lot of the artisans that I work with, they're all in remote communities. So basically I was in the middle of the tar desert with this NGO, which has been around for about 30 years or so. And they sort of make everything, you know, that's hand-woven so they hand weave these rugs, which originally were used by nomadic settlers there.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:18:55):
And they're multifunctional. You can use them as rocks throws, blankets, picnic, blankets, you name it. So I really loved the work that they did and the impact that they have on the communities. And I know that when I traveled with them through the areas of just on anyone that, you know, met these people came up to us and they were like, yeah, they're really great. They tell us when there is a huge malaria outbreak. So they helped with vaccinations and, you know, they empower women there as well. A lot of village women, you know, there's a high rates of female deaths, child deaths. So, you know, abortions and things like that.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:19:36):
So it's, you know, you know, in India you've still got these really sort of old fashioned, almost medieval type of, sort of thought processes. You know, so what they do is they sort of help the social inequality, gender inequality, they educate women, you know, against these things basically. And they help, you know, they help empower women to handloom as well because it's a male dominated industry and enables them to earn their own money and be independent as well, you know, so that they gained respect within their communities as well. And, and all that has it a positive effect on everything. So that was an amazing trip I had.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:20:17):
And I actually lived with them for three days, which was amazing. Cause they cook. I mean, they're like
chefs basically you have a meal with them and they're just amazing. And it was like visiting an old uncle really. Cause I took me around their family's houses and you know, they were incredibly proud, you know, that their products were going to go to England, you know, so it was good to actually see the weavers at work. You know, it's a very difficult, you know, trade it's learned from generations, from grandfathers to fathers, to sons, you know, and they have immense pride in what they do. So I love that. I can learn about these things.
Vicki Weinberg (00:20:55):
Yeah. And I love just how much you know about your products and where they come from and who's made them, I just think that's amazing story about behind the products and the people and the impact they're having. That's just fantastic.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:21;08):
Yeah. I think it's, you know, I think to have, you know, you get a piece of textile or something and it's got all these beautiful designs on it. I love the, you know, I can sell a story as well, you know, and it's a story that has an impact, which I think is really important because I think lockdown has made us more mindful of things. We've not been able to go out and shop like we want to, we've had to make do, and probably meant the clothes that we have at home. We've probably cleared out our wardrobes and just reused or, you know, upcycled things. And I think it's really important to, you know, take this opportunity that even though, you know, Covid has been obviously a negative thing, it's, it has had a positive impact in the fact that I think we appreciate our clothes more than we did before.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:22:04):
And I think that's what it's all about really, you know, it's, it's about using what you have and recycling, you know, buying good quality clothes that are an investment, you know, that will, you know, you'll treasure because they've got a beautiful story, you know, that you've made an impact. And I think that's, what's important is the consumer needs to know that they're the ones that make the change. You know, we can sell the products, but it's a consumer when they buy it, they know that they've made a change and that's how they can as a whole change the fashion industry in the way that they're working in terms of fast fashion, you know? Yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:22:42):
That's amazing. Thank you. So I've got a few follow up questions. I'm wondering where to go next. I think as you mentioned, lockdown and cave, it will go there if that's okay. Because I'm really curious as to wherever the situation, which is obviously been a global one has affected your business and your supply chain. Cause I'm, I would imagine that it's been harder to maybe get products and type of minutia. So what impacts has there been and what impact has there been on the communities you're working with as well? I'm really curious on that as well. Like all the artists and you work with, have they been impacted directly?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:23:14):
Yeah. So take, for example, the upcycled range of necklaces and sorry, scarfs that I do a lot of the women that make the salary scar. So actually home-based, which has been brilliant. So they've not been impacted, you know, they've stayed at home and normally what they do is they get together certain times of the day and they all sit and sew together and they chat and, you know, just to have a good chin wag with each other. So what they've done, they've not done that, but they've just continued to selling our home. So even though, you know, the supply chain has slowed down that aspect of it, hasn't obviously with, COVID a lot of the other Rangers, you know, everybody sort of stopped buying basically.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:24:02):
So we stopped by bringing in stock anyway. So it's just been selling what we have, you know, in March and the following months that happened. So I've personally have not been impacted that much, which has been a bit of a godsend actually. And the rest of the artists and chains they've been okay. You know, they're safe is basically what they're saying and because they all earn a sustainable wage, they're very lucky because they've obviously been able to fall back on, you know, the money that they have, whereas those in, you know, fast fashion, you know, for the brands that have stopped the orders, you've probably heard, you know, on the news and everything like the big brands, like H and M or Primark, you know, they literally canceled orders that had already been made.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:24:58):
So garment workers weren't being paid. A lot of them obviously suffered from COVID because there was no social distancing and no health measures whatsoever. So, you know, I'd hate to think what happened to them basically. So, you know, luckily, you know, we've got a supply chain, which is very forward thinking and it's really helped the artisans stands out. So yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:25:21):
Yeah. It's, it's really fun. It's yeah. It's really nice to hear a positive story and hear that they haven't been overly impacted that's yeah, that's really good to hear. So speaking of sharing stories, Harjit this is the next place I'd like to go if that's okay with you. So I'm a co we're called in this, I forget the day, but it's September you've been the Telegraph on Sunday. Gosh, I see. You've had a lot of press over the last couple of times, you know, I've been following you, I've seen you in the, in the press more than once. So yeah. Tell us about that. So how are you getting the press coverage? Is that, was that part of your marketing strategy to go out there and share your story?Yeah, I would just love to know all that you've done.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:26:02):
Yeah. I think, I think the past couple of months have been very busy. I was featured in woman and home magazine, which was great. A journalist just put out a call basically and said they were looking for women who had, you know, sort of lift their dream in a way or had their dreams come true. And they sort of hinted that it would be around travel and everything. And I thought, well, yeah, that, that was my dream come true.
So I just put myself forward for it because I think I've got really great images. The press look for really good images and a really good story around things. So I really went for it for that one. And luckily I was featured and then this Sunday, the Sunday is just that it's just gone.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:26:48):
Actually I was featured in the Telegraph and that was a similar thing. It's I had that from a Twitter request, so people can search the hashtag journal requests and the, you know, the media put out a call for things on that hashtag, which is really great. You know, if you follow it every day and just look out for requests and see if they're relevant to you, you know, somethings you can just sort of, you know, have an angle around and you can make it relevant towards yourself, reply to them really quickly, you know, and just put yourself out to be helpful to journalists really.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:27:31):
Cause that's what they're looking for. You know, they're looking for help in creating stories. So that's how it came about. And it was amazing actually the Telegraph feature because I had so many like personal emails from people saying I'm really inspired by what you did when you were in your forties when you did it. So I was, I was quite taken aback by it. So it's been brilliant because obviously customers have bought lots of things and you know, it just has a knock-on effects on everything, which is great, really positive effects on everything that you do. And I think price is one of those things that a lot of people don't actually follow through.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:28:15):
You know, everyone sort of tends to concentrate on their social media and you spend hours and days, don't you basically, you know, on social media life just disappears when you're on the, but press is really important, you know? And it's just, I think time. Yeah. A lot of people don't have the time, especially if they're sort of, you know, working so low. So I would really say, you know, take some time out to try and get some press coverage, you know, and include that in like your, your plan for the next three months, you know, on a plan ahead as well. You've got Christmas coming, you know, lots of people will be looking for gift guides, you know, and Christmas gifts for people.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:29:02):
You know, if you can put yourself out there and say, Hey, look, I've got this amazing gift. It's all wrapped up beautifully. It's all done. Basically. You know, someone can go online and just buy it. It's a really great way of, you know, sort of promoting yourself.
Vicki Weinberg (00:29:18):
Thank you. No, I think I definitely agree with you and I'll be honest. I've had PR it's on my to do list for years and haven't done a thing about it and I can definitely see the benefits, but yeah, it just, I dunno, like, I guess it seems quite daunting speaking to journalists and you also always worry whether you or your products
actually has a story. So what were your, or you have any tips for people who are in that same mindset that I'm in of? Wow. What would I talk about? Yeah. I mean, I still feel that way now, you know, it's all these mind monkeys that Creek 10, isn't it. And they're just like, you're not good enough. You know, somebody else is better than you.
Vicki Weinberg (00:29:58):
And especially I think the social media, you know, you've got all these like sort of amazing pictures of people that look like they're doing well, you know, but it could be very different behind the scenes. You know, they've probably worked really, really hard to get where they want or it's just, you know, it's things are not exactly what they seem, which is what I'm saying. You know, it's, it's, I think you just have to look at how far you've come to sort of, you know, Pat yourself on the back and say, look, I've come this far now and people have been interested and you know, if you've been featured in a national magazine, then it's a really great thing.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:30:40):
People are obviously interested in what you're doing and then your story. So it's, you know, try and not think about those mind monkeys and just say, look, this is the objective of what I'm going to do. I'm really going to put myself out there.
Vicki Weinberg (00:30:54):
Okay. Thank you. So you think it's really a case of being brave and putting yourself forwards and see what comes of it.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:30:59):
Yeah, I think so. Yeah, definitely. You know, I think what's important is to have a community of women that are on your side. So I love Facebook groups, you know, they're so helpful. People eat, you know, help each other and you get so many tips in those as well. This is how, you know, everybody gets ahead. Basically. This is how we all start from zero and then actually start finding ourselves within our businesses because it's an evolving thing. Isn't it? I mean, my business, when I started, I look at it now, it sort of makes me you know, I think, Oh my God. You know, but now when I look at it, I think, ah, it's actually becoming something that, you know, I had a vision for, you know, actually see it like that.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:31:47):
So yeah, definitely get help. I would say that, you know, there's lots of stuff on the internet, you know, you can become part of a lot of business groups where there's a lot of those supportive women that can give you tips. Obviously, if you can invest in a coach, actually I forgot to say actually when I first started, because I didn't have a clue and I was totally like, you know, zero knowledge about anything. I did find myself coach and she was part of a group of women who were sort of in the same boat. And that's how I sort of got started. Cause otherwise you don't know where you're going.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:32:27):
It's just a, you know, if you just Google the hell out of everything, it's just a rabbit Warren full of information that you can't organize into something that is going to lead you in a focused. So it's important to do that. So yeah, if you're starting out and you have no clue, you know, find a good business coach, there's loads out there now, you know, there's absolutely loads and there's one that will resonate with you. I think finding a business coach and a group that resonates with you is really important.
Vicki Weinberg (00:33:00):
Absolutely. I mean, that was my experience as well. Yeah. You said so many things that it really resonates when I first started. Yeah. I found that Google was great, but there was almost too much on Google. You could go down so many holes. I spoken about this before and yeah. So this is why I'm kind of doing this podcast and create the online course just to help people who know they want to start selling products, but just don't know, you know, how's it go about it. So I will link through to my it resources in the show notes for anyone who wants to take a look and I may not be the right person for you, but I might be. So, you know, I think what you do
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:33:40):
Well though, is the fact that, you know, it's, you're very methodical in what you're writing. You know, you start from somebody not knowing anything about how to create a product, but they know they want to do it. So it's everything, it's all those questions afterwards that everybody has that you answer, you know, and that's the most important thing. So again, for everybody else as well, you know, whatever business they want to create, whether it's fashion or not, then, you know, finding a person as yourself to, you know, really focus, what they need to do is super important.
Vicki Weinberg (00:34:14):
Thank you. Thank you. And I should mention that a Harjit has gone through my course. I should mention that as well. Thank you. This isn't about me. This is about you. And as I say, I might, I might be the right person for someone that's in. I might not, I won't be offended if not. And the other thing you said that really resonated was about finding a network or community. Cause I completely agree. It's really tough to do this on your own. And I find myself saying this more and more to people now just find some people who are doing something similar to you, even if it's not exactly the same business, even if that starts up a completely different business. But having someone who knows about that you're wearing, I think is really helpful because as we talked about at the beginning, unless you've, you know, your families and entrepreneurial, you might be the first person in your circle to do something like this.
Vicki Weinberg (00:35:03):
And that can feel really lonely and you need someone else who knows what you're going through. Definitely. And I also liked what you said about when you looked back on your business. And so you said such a lot of good things I'm having to recap you were talking about when you look back at how your business was at the
beginning, compared to how it is now. And I would just like to say that I think it's fantastic that you just got started. And even if you look back now, I think all of those and quite the business I wanted, as you said, now you have that business. So yeah, I think it's a really good message to just get started. And it doesn't matter if things aren't right, you can change, you can evolve, but if you don't get started, you're never going to get where it ever is.
Vicki Weinberg (00:35:44):
You want to get to,
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:35:46):
Yeah, I think a lot of people, you know, that's why they say a lot of people fail is at the beginning, you know, because they just don't really take off, you know, or the so many, it's such a, I think having a business it's such a brave thing to do, I think, you know, for everybody, because it's a very risky thing to do. You're giving up secure incomes and you know, so I think to actually take that step forward is brilliant. And I think the reason why every business evolves is because finding your customer, your right customer, the right audience to sell to is the most important thing, you know?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:36:27):
So my audience has changed over the years. You know, I've gone more to like a luxury end and, you know, once I've realized who my customer is, then everything around that is so much easier because you can talk to your customer in a certain way that resonates with them. Otherwise you're just, you know, selling to everybody. You'll just, it's just not going to happen really. And being ethical as well. You know, my customer is someone who is interested in sort of sustainable fashion, handcrafted fashion, you know, fashion know that they might have seen when they've traveled and they love it.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:37:07):
You know, and they've seen something like now it's actually wearable over here. So a lot of, you know, my customers tend to be either working for like ethical businesses or, you know, organizations. So yeah, I think finding your customer and talking to your customer in the right way is really important.
Vicki Weinberg (00:37:31):
That's really good advice. Thank you. Because I think, yeah, knowing who you're talking, cause if, what did I say that if you're talking to everybody you're talking to nobody, I'm sure that's a real saying I haven't made up. Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's also sort of just worth highlighting you. You've mentioned that your business has been going for nearly seven years. And when we were speaking for a little bit before the call, you were saying, you know, things have really taken off in the last 12 to 18 months. And I think that's also an important thing to share because coming back to things, being tough at the beginning, I sometimes think that if people don't see success right away, it's easy to get disheartened. I mean, I've certainly been disheartened at points as well, but the more of these interviews I do and the more people I speak to, some people
absolutely, you know, their business takes off in the first year and they're doing really well, but others, it's more of like a slow, gradual build up.
Vicki Weinberg (00:38:21):
And it, you know, it might take three years, might take five years, but everybody that I'm, I've spoke to how, you know, has a business that they're proud of and it's achieving what they wanted it to and everyone's got their in their own timescale. So I just think it's worth sharing that highlight in that as well.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:38:38):
Yeah. But yeah, I think it's important because we all sort of, you know, compare ourselves to others who might be sort of flying basically in their businesses. And then you put a time limit on yourself, which is not reasonable because it also depends on what sort of niche you're in as well. You know, so I mean, sustainable fashion is growing, you know, ethical fashion is growing and people are more mindful of it. I think it's more of a slow gain, you know, not that, you know, ethical fashion businesses out there aren't doing well, but you know, if you're in a real niche niche of things, you know, it's your time limit is totally, your journey is totally different to somebody else's, you know, but as long as you keep going and keep doing those consistent things that keep going, you know, and not comparing yourself to other people, cause that's unrealistic, really, we all do it.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:39:31):
I still do it subconsciously. I try not to do it, but you know, you do sit there and you think, Oh God, you know, when am I going to make a million? You know? But again, you know, I don't want to make a million, to be honest. I, you know, I think my business is different in the fact that, you know, it's, it's a purpose. It's a part of me, you know, and going back to the travel, it's, you know, backpacking around Southeast Asia, my backpack taught me, you know, a huge lesson in terms of, you know, I used to buy fast fashion and just living in the clothes that I had at the time, because I didn't buy it anymore for that whole year.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:40:14):
I just existed in those. And I thought to myself, I don't need anything else. I don't need any more than I need, you know, and I don't miss it. So it taught me a lot in that way and all the experiences of seeing poverty and sort of political upheavals and the struggles that people had. And in developing countries that I visited, you know, really taught me many, many a lesson. So my business is a purpose to me. You know, I, my purpose is also to create awareness of sustainable fashion and ethical fashion so that, you know, myself and lots of other similar businesses and consumers, because consumers, the most important person here changes the industry, the fast fashion industry, so that they make the changes, they pay their gone workers, you know, more than a living wage, you know, and if we have to pay a couple of pounds more for a t-shirt and so bit, because as a nation, we are, you know, more well off than they are.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:41:13):
And, you know, people deserve respect for what they make, just like they do over here. So in terms of like sort of social equality and gender equality, I think it's really important, you know? Yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:41:26):
And I also think it's great that you've defined what success means to you as well. And that it's not just all about sort of the financial side that were other, you know, you have other goals as well. I think that's,
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:41:37):
You know, that's when you want to feel fulfilled in your life, you know, chasing money will never always bring you happiness, you know, at the end of the day you run a business. So yeah, we should, you know, make money so that you can feed your family and pay your mortgage and do everything that everybody else does. So, you know, that's fine, but you know, having a creative business and having a purpose to the business, you know, that brings you joy and happiness and also enables you to travel as well. You know, once a year when we could, you know, to source things. I mean, it's like my best job, you know, what else could I ever want in life?
Vicki Weinberg (00:42:19):
That's fantastic. Thank you. Okay. So I want to be respectful of your time, but I do have one final question for you before we finish. And I know you shared a lot with us. This might be a hard one, but what is your number one piece of advice for anyone else wanting to start a products business, whether that's in sustainable fashion or anything at all?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:42:37):
Oh gosh. I would say if you're just starting off, get help, because I think from that, you know, you get, it really helps you on your journey to starting and starting is the most difficult thing, you know, having help from mentors and other business owners that are either in your field or not is totally invaluable. You know? So I would say get help definitely. And join lots of Facebook groups and support groups because you know, they can help you, you know, down the path that you need really to, you eitherknow, make a good go of your business.
Vicki Weinberg (00:43:21):
That's fantastic advice. Thank you. And yeah. Yeah, I agree. And you absolutely don't necessarily need to pay for help either, if that's something that, you know, in a position to do, as you say, there are plenty of Facebook groups, forums, possibly even local groups to wherever you are that you know, where you can go along and speak to people and, and get loads of benefits as well.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:43:41):
Yeah, definitely. You know, a lot of stuff I've done, I've done free, you know, things like PR you don't really have to go out and spend thousands of pounds on a PR company. You can do it for free. Maybe it comes to
a stage way or quite successful. And you want to hand it over to somebody like a PR company that's different, but if you're starting, you know, you can do a lot of what they call low hanging fruit, which is, you know, sort of actions that get you free or get you notice, you know, get you free sort of coverage. So I think, you know, it's, there's so many things that, you know, you can do that don't cost money.
Vicki Weinberg (00:44:21):
That's great advice. Thank you. And yeah. And I completely agree of you definitely don't need to do it alone. And so yeah, if you're listening and you know, you're, you're just getting started. Don't ever feel that you need to do it alone because there were many people out there that can help and support you. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for your time today Harjit. Thank you so much for everything that you've shared. So I'm going to link over in the show notes to the Jewelled Buddha as a website and all your social media channels. People can go over and take a look at your products. It's definitely worth doing. They're beautiful. And that's willing to your Telegraph article as well as people who can go and read a bit more about you. And is there anything I've missed? Is there anywhere else you'd want people to go and look at or anything else you wanted to add before we finish?
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:45:04):
No, I think that's it. And, and anybody out there with, you know, starting a business. Good luck.
Vicki Weinberg (00:45:10):
Thank you so much.
Harjit Sohotey-Khan (00:45:12):
Thank you for having me Vicki it's been brilliant things and he welcome.
Vicki Weinberg (00:45:17):
We hope you enjoy listening to Harjit's story, or you found it interesting. And that was always, you found a few things that you could actually take away from it. I would love to know what you think. You can email me email@example.com. You can find me on Instagram VickiHarjit Weinberg product creation, or you can rate and review this podcast episode. Please remember as well to go and take a look at Harjit's site and look at the beautiful items that she's selling. I really do appreciate anyone who takes their time to come on this podcast and share their story with us. So it'd be fantastic if you can go over and also have a look at what she's doing. And one of the subjects, if you also have a small products business, wherever you are six months in or six years in, and you'd like to be part of the show, I would absolutely love to have you.
Vicki Weinberg (00:46:03):
So just get in touch with me. It's firstname.lastname@example.org and we can have a chat and see if you're a good fit. Never worry. I'm not looking for people who have the certainly have, you know, really well-established businesses. I think it's also really inspiring to speak to people who are just starting out. So if that's you, I
would love to hear from you and that's it for today. Enjoy the rest of your day, enjoy your week. And I will speak to you again soon.